Shorewood wants everyone to read novel; Merrill parents try to ban it | Wis.Community

Shorewood wants everyone to read novel; Merrill parents try to ban it

Larry Watson, left, author of the best-selling novel, "Montana 1948," is speaking in Shorewood today to kick off a "Shorewood Reads" program in which the whole community is being encouraged to read his book. Elsewhere, they're trying to ban it. says:

Shorewood Library Director Beth Carey estimated that the book has been checked out of the library more than 200 times and been read by a number of area book clubs over the last few months...

Montana 1948 has been the featured book in community reading programs numerous times since its publication in 1993, something Watson attributes to the fact that it deals with the kind of moral dilemma that “frequently makes for interesting and productive discussions.”

The novel also has provoked an interesting discussion in Merrill, up the road a piece, where some parents tried to get it banned from high school libraries and out of the curriculum for 10th grade English students.

That effort failed, as the Wausau Daily Herald

The book's fate was determined at a public hearing held Thursday night in the Merrill High School auditorium, following a request by a group of parents that the critically acclaimed book be banned from the district's curriculum and libraries on the grounds that it includes mature themes of rape, sex and obscene language.

The majority of School Board members believe the book has educational value for high school students. They took two votes on the matter. They unanimously voted to keep the book in the high school's library. And they voted 6-2 to keep the book as part of the curriculum, with board members Loretta Baughan and Brad Geiss opposing the book's use in classes...

Baughan said the book's portrayal of rape, pedophilia and incestuous fantasies were inappropriate subjects for a book that's taught in an English class.

"Where do we draw the line between what's acceptable and what's not?" she said. "I can't think of topics much worse than those to be discussed in school."

Think harder. Surely there's something worse.

Watson, who was on the UW-Stevens Point faculty when the book was published more than 15 years ago, is now a Marquette professor. He was at Boswell's Books last week for a reading from his new novel, "American Boy," but unfortunately the Merrill controvery didn't come up, although the school board apparently was meeting the same night.

Published

October 5, 2011 - 4:02pm

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